When can we expect Project Connect’s downtown tunnel, light rail system?

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Voters said yes to Project Connect, so KXAN wanted to know what the timeline for projects look like moving forward.

For example, how long will it take for the downtown tunnel or the new light rail system to be done? Capital Metro officials say the downtown tunnel will help reduce travel time for riders and street traffic for drivers. That’s because it will provide connections for the new light rail system.

However, it’ll take nearly a decade before those projects become a reality. The transit agency’s CEO and President Randy Clarke said there’s a reason for that lengthy timeline.

“I don’t want to save a small amount of time and have things not be built correctly or have safety issues during construction or all those other matters we have to do this right,” he said.

(Source: Capital Metro)

Project Connect is made up of a series of projects, each with its own timeline and budget. The downtown tunnel will either be built out with the orange or blue line, which is yet to be determined. Clarke said there are several steps they have to go through before shovels hit the ground.

“We need federal funding to do this program, that was the entire model that we built this program on,” he said. “To get federal funding you obviously have to follow federal rules and one of the most important federal rules is the need for process, which is really just a nice way of saying the environmental review process. That’s not just environment that has to do with historic buildings, equity and access to transportation, it’s the holistic idea of the environment.”

Starting in January, CapMetro officials plan to host their first Project Connect community meeting focused on the NEPA/environmental process to work with the community on the future of the projects.

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